DC's top prosecutor calls Donald Trump Jr. for questioning in inauguration probe

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said he’s “extremely confident” the President’s son illegally misused the non-pro

By Jon Skolnik
January 16, 2021 3:23AM (UTC)
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Donald Trump along with his son Donald, Jr., arrive for a press conference at Trump Tower in New York, as Allen Weisselberg (C), chief financial officer of The Trump, looks on January 11, 2017. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

The D.C. attorney general's office has notified the President's son, Donald Trump Jr., that he is wanted for questioning over alleged mishandling of his father's inauguration funds from 2017.

The probe comes off the back of a lawsuit leveled in January of last year, in which D.C.'s Attorney General Karl Racine accused the Trump Organization of mishandling over $1 million raised by the Presidential Inauguration Committee. In the 18-page lawsuit, Racine claimed the Trump Organization "grossly overpaid" for President Trump's inauguration in D.C.'s Trump Hotel back in 2017, spending $175,000 per day for ballroom space and $300,000 in total for food and drinks. 

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Last year, Racine reportedly interviewed the chairman of the Inaugural Committee Tom Barrack, as well as the President's daughter Ivanka Trump, who called the investigation "another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars."

Now, after finding a new piece of evidence for the case, Racine is requesting an interview with Don Jr., who the attorney general claims "improperly wasted" nearly $50,000 of the Inaugural Committee's fund to cover a block of hotel rooms for his college friend, Gentry Beach. According to Racine, this expenditure should have been paid for by the Trump Organization as opposed to the Committee, a tax-exempt non-profit. 

"That's why the presidential inauguration commission paid so much money for rooms and event space that were far above market rate during the inauguration," explained Racine, "And that's why we just amended our complaint to include that Donald Trump Jr's good friend essentially had a free set of rooms for a period of time during the inauguration for no good not-for-profit purpose."

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Racine details that the transaction occurred by way of a contractual agreement facilitated by Donald Trump Jr.'s personal assistant. However, the Inaugural Committee was never a part of the contract. So, when a collection agency contacted Committee official Rick Gates after the Trump Organization failed to pay an invoice for the hotel expenses, Gates passed the invoice along to people working in the inaugural's finances, sounding alarms for what are likely to be more financial improprieties. 

Racine is demanding that the Trump Organization refund the benefits it received from the Inaugural Committee since there are laws barring charity leaders from enriching themselves through their own organization.

"We're before a court and at the end of the day the court will decide," Mr. Racine stated, "But the evidence is clear. The Trump business and the Trump family used the not-for-profit to profit themselves."

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Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

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